Trust affects us all in daily life, specifically, our relationships. Trust is vital in functioning relationships but too much trust or a lack of trust can be harmful. How trusting are you, and could this be having a damaging effect?

Trust is defined as having a strong belief in the reliability, truth, and ability, of someone or something. It is important in our daily relationships. A healthy amount of trust can involve feelings of being able to confide in someone, rely upon them, and entrust tasks to them. Trusting relationships are important in all areas of life. For example, in romantic relationships trust means a belief that damaging actions like cheating or walking out will not occur. At work trust is also important; it is necessary for bosses to trust their employees so that jobs with responsibility can be assigned to them. It is also necessary for workers to have trust in their boss, about receiving pay, not being suddenly laid off, and safety at work. Trust among friends and family is important so that individuals can feel supported, can have a safe place to share secrets, concerns, and problems, and receive advice. We all recognise how significant trust is in our everyday lives, but what happens when trust becomes unhealthy? How can trust be harmful to us?

How Trust Can Harm Us

Trust is one of many things needed to have healthy and close relationships. However, an unhealthy level of trust can be harmful. Let us first look at issues surrounding a lack of trust. A lack of trust may stem from previous experiences; perhaps the person has posttraumatic stress, has been abused in the past, cheated on, or suffered from family issues such as a parent walking out. Whatever the cause, a deficiency of trust can cause serious problems for individuals. The lack of trust may be directed at just one person, perhaps a romantic partner if cheating has previously occurred, or it may be a more serious problem and apply to many people. It can lead to various anxiety disorders including agoraphobia, and becoming socially withdrawn. If severe, a lack of trust can cause somebody to feel hopeless, depressed and possibly consider harming themselves or suicide. Low self-esteem and a lack of confidence are also common among people who lack trust. Such people are also likely to bottle up emotions; this is because they feel they cannot confide in others. This can be very damaging, as individuals with very low trust may be in need of help. Now let us focus on people who are overly trusting. This involves having high levels of trust for people, sometimes including strangers, who may in reality cause harm to the individual. It is often referred to as being naïve. This can be dangerous; for example, if a vulnerable person trusts someone powerful, who then abuses their power. It can lead to situations of sexual assault or abuse, financial and material theft, exploitation, physical violence or emotional abuse. The on-going psychological effects of such situations can be problematic. This causes significant harm to the individual and stems from being too trusting. If trust issues are having an impact on your life and mental health, it is important to get help.

Trust and External Relationships

As we have discussed, trust is crucial in healthy relationships. However, too little or too much trust can harm our relationships, for example, romantic or sexual relationships. Too little trust might involve questioning our partner about where they have been, who they have been with and what they were doing. It can also result in reading messages on their phone, emails, or calling them to check up on their behaviour. These actions can be damaging and will more than likely cause arguments. If the problems are severe, it may cause domestic violence or emotional abuse and manipulation. A lack of trust can eventually lead to the breakup of romantic relationships. Too much trust leaves us open to get hurt. Perhaps we trust someone who will cheat on us, leave us financially destitute, or put us in a vulnerable situation. These situations can also be dangerous, and may lead to sexual or emotional abuse and exploitation. Relationships where one party is overly trusting, and this trust is exploited, are very unhealthy.

How Therapy Can Help

If you are concerned that you lack trust it is time to seek help. Perhaps you struggle to confide in others and feel high levels of anxiety about getting hurt by relationships. These are signs that you have a trust deficiency. It is also important to seek help if you possess an unusually large amount of trust, especially if this trust is regularly exploited, or has been betrayed in the past. Therapists and counselors are trained to help people work through their issues and start to regain a positive mind set. If you speak to someone about your trust issues, you will be on the right track to recovery.

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